Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch
Everyone’s talking about Black Mirror’s latest interactive episode titled ‘Bandersnatch’. Why has it gained so much popularity since its release, what does it mean, how does it work and what it means for the future? Here is Bandersnatch, explained.
What does it mean?
Bandersnatch, in exclusivity, is a fictional fierce mythical creature in Lewis Carroll’s 1872 novel Through the Looking-Glass and his 1874 poem The Hunting of the Snark which is immune to bribery and capable of moving very fast.
Although neither work describes the appearance of a bandersnatch in great detail, in The Hunting of the Snark, it has a long neck and snapping jaws, and both works describe it as ferocious and extraordinarily fast. Through the Looking-Glass implies that bandersnatches may be found in the world behind the looking-glass,and in The Hunting of the Snark, a bandersnatch is found by a party of adventurers after crossing an ocean. Bandersnatches have appeared in various adaptations of Carroll’s works and in other authors’ works and in other forms of media.
What is worth noticing is that Bandersnatch is also the name of a 1984 vaporware game project by Imagine Software that led to the 1986 game Bratacca.
Bandersnatch are also the subject of a difficult algorithm design project for an apparently NP-complete problem in the academic theoretical computer science book by M. R. Garey and D. S. Johnson, Computers and Intractability: A Guide to the Theory of NP-Completeness.
Arguably, Bandersnatch in the illustration of the Jubjub bird (left) and the Bandersnatch (right) looks most similar to another reference from 2010 film Alice in Wonderland. The Bandersnatch appears as a large white beast somewhat resembling a mix of bulldog, jaguar and bear with long fur, black spots, a long tail, and multiple rows of sharp teeth.. (*spoilers!*) This figure does appear in the episode by the name of ‘Pax’.
Although, in the episode, Bandersnatch is the name of a fictional book of the same title by a fictional author named ‘Jerome F. Davies’.
How does it work?
The episode is interactive in a way where the the viewer chooses the path for the protagonist. This story is based in 1984. It’s about Stefan, who is offered a game developing position for ‘Tuckersoft’. Run by Mohan Thakur and worked for by Colin Ritman, Tuckersoft is craving for their next big hit after ‘Nohzdyve’ As Stefan goes through his life, his actions are decided by the audience in a very virtual video-gamesque behaviour. The screen closes in as 2 options are displayed on the screen with a time limit.
The permutations and combinations lead to a unique ending for each viewer (or should we say, player) The whole idea of the storyline matches the content. The writer Jerome F. Davies is said to have lost grip on reality as he decides he is being controlled by an exterior force. He blames his wife and decapitates her and paints the walls with metaphorical symbols. Stefan also suffers the same fate.
Another pivotal character in the show is Colin Ritman, an established game developer who helps Stefan get out of ‘the hole’, which in the show is termed as a state of mind where you are in war with your own brain. Something of a ‘game developers block’. He urges Stefan to try out hallucinogenic drugs. As a result,, he also explains the possibility of multiple timelines. This is also incidentally, Jerome F. Davies theory. Every encounter with a choice, splits the timeline into different possible universes, in accordance with the number of options given.
This exactly, is the crux of the episode.
What does it mean for the future?
Netflix and Black Mirror together has worked together towards developing a software that paves way for a new age of television and entertainment altogether.
The fact that the experience is not meant for mass audience means that interactive videos will not feature on the big screen and will be exclusive for OTT platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.
We’re imagining big– Marvel and interactive episodes, The world of Harry Potter, Horror, Thriller, Coming of age, the possibilities are endless. We are excited and you should be too!